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Roman small town at Dorn

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Roman small town at Dorn

List entry Number: 1018451


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Batsford

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jan-1999

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 31926

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Five types of town are known to have existed in Roman Britain: coloniae, municipia, civitas capitals, Roman provincial capitals and Roman small towns. The first four types can be classified as `public towns' because each had an official status within the provincial administrative system. Roman small towns are settlements of urban character which lack the administrative status of public towns, but which are nevertheless recognisably urban in terms of morphology, features and function. They tend to lack the planned rectangular street grids, public buildings and well-appointed town houses of the public towns and instead are generally characterised by mainly insubstantial timber or half-timbered structures. Some small towns possess an enclosing wall, while others have masonry or earthwork defences. Additional features include temples, bath houses, ovens, kilns and cemeteries. Roman small towns began to emerge in the mid-first century AD. However, the majority of examples appeared in the later first and second centuries, while the third and fourth centuries saw the growth and development of existing establishments, together with the emergence of a small number of new ones. Some small towns had their origins in earlier military sites such as fort-vici and developed into independent urban areas following the abandonment of the forts. Others developed alongside major roads and were able to exploit a wide range of commercial opportunities as a result of their location. There are a total of 133 Roman small towns recorded in England. These are mainly concentrated in the Midlands and central southern England. Some examples have survived as undeveloped `greenfield' sites and consequently possess particularly well-preserved archaeological remains.

The Roman small town at Dorn lies along the course of the Foss Way between Cirencester and Lincoln, and covered a considerably larger area than that enclosed within the defences, possibly extending over 15ha or more. Archaeological investigation of the site has revealed evidence for significant activity from the first to late fourth centuries AD and aerial photographs suggest some form of planning in the layout of the settlement.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which falls into two areas divided by a railway line, includes the largely buried remains of a Roman small town which has two main components: a rectangular defended enclosure adjacent to the Foss Way and a small settlement lying around a broad north-south roadway running parallel to and about 560m to the west of the Foss. The site lies about 1.5km to the north of the town of Moreton-in-Marsh. The rectangular enclosure covers about 4ha, the ditches and banks of which are still visible, although considerably degraded. The ditch appears as a broad depression varying between 30m and 50m in width and up to 1.5m in depth. On the western side the ditch is 20m wide and 1m deep, overlain by traces of medieval cultivation in the form of ridge and furrow. The enclosure lies immediately to the west of the original line of the Foss Way, which is visible from the air as a crop mark running south west to north east across the fields. Aerial photographs show the road as a band of metalling between 8m and 10m wide with intermittent traces of flanking ditches. Within the enclosure, crop marks indicate a number of streets, metalled and up to 5m wide, following the alignment of the enclosure sides and the Foss Way. The settlement within the enclosure is divided into six regular insulae, each of about 0.7ha in area. The northernmost of the east-west streets can be seen to run beyond the eastern part of the settlement to form a `T'-junction with the Foss Way. The presence of a Romano-British settlement site at Dorn has been recognised from the early 17th century and numerous finds were reported from the site over the following 200 years. When the railway line was constructed during the 19th century, archaeological discoveries included building foundations, pits and wells, along with two altar-shaped sculptures. One of these depicts a genius and the other a genius wearing a mural crown and carrying a cornucopia and patera. The site was part excavated between 1937 and 1939 by Lieutenant Colonel R K Morcom, during which a stone-built rectangular structure divided into four rooms with a tiled roof was discovered. Associated finds included painted wall plaster and some coarse tesserae, indicating that there was a building with a tessellated pavement nearby. Trenching to the south of the building revealed evidence for further structures. Below these levels was a floor associated with a timber building of later second to early third century AD. Finds from the excavations included coins dating from the reign of Hadrian (AD 117-138) to the early fifth century, along with pottery of first to fourth century date. In 1994 the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England undertook a topographic survey and aerial photographic transcription. This focused on the western side of the enclosure, revealing a robber trench following the line of the ditch, and a gap in the line of the trench which is thought to indicate the position of a gate. Despite the shape of the fortified enclosure and indications of a planned street grid, there is no evidence that Dorn was ever a military base. The survey also noted the cropmarks of ditched enclosures integrated with the broad tracks of lanes covering an area of about 4.5ha and lying 200m to the west of the defended enclosure. The common alignment of the cropmarks in this area with the lines of the defences and the Foss Way suggest some form of continuity and planned development. The cropmarks are also thought to indicate a lengthy period of occupation, with many intersecting ditches suggestive of episodes of recutting and alignment. Roman pottery and coins have been found in these fields during the 20th century. Excluded from the scheduling are all post and wire fences, wooden post fences, metal and wooden gates and their gateposts, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , Iron Age and Roman Monuments in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, (1976), 12-13
Timby, J R, Kingscote: A Romano-British Estate Centre in the Cotswolds, (1998), 518-529
Timby, J R, Kingscote: A Romano-British Estate Centre in the Cotswolds, (1998), 518-529

National Grid Reference: SP 20315 33861, SP 20701 33779


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This copy shows the entry on 24-Sep-2018 at 06:09:04.

End of official listing